Street. PETERSBURG, FL – The Orioles pledged that they would come to the field every night expecting to win. Friday night was a reminder that other teams in the MLS are feeling the same way.
The 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays ended Baltimore’s 10-game winning streak – the longest in a single season since 1999 – with every game coming against a team outside their league. The defeat, which opened the last streak of the first half of the season, brought the Orioles (45-45) back to 0.500. They are 15-20 against the other four AL East teams, all of whom entered Friday in the playoff position, and 30-25 against the rest of the league.
“They don’t call it ‘The Beast’ for nothing,” said novice shooter Tyler Wells. “Right now, I think we are also showing that we are there with them. We are just as hard to beat now as they are.”
The Tropicana field is perhaps the only place that can be questioned. Friday was the Orioles’ first visit here since the start of the season, “sounds like a long time ago,” coach Brandon Hyde said before the game. Although the Orioles are playing much better than when they last left, the score was the same, losing 10 in a row and 16 of their previous 17 games in St Petersburg.
“Not here, but some kind from outside, [that sweep] It was like, ‘Oh, the old Orioles again,’ Tre Mancini said before the game, and it’s great to be back here with a winning record so late in the season. We’ve come a long way as a team and that’s because a lot of these players have made themselves great players and we’ve learned how to play as a unit.”
Homer Mancini’s single held the top third to the bottom half, marking the first time in 62 rounds the Orioles have led after a Trop. After a frame, Ramon Urillas extended the lead with his first two home runs, though those blasts to the left booked five straight runs for Tampa Bay.
A pass provided by Wells at the bottom of the fourth inning when Yu Chang doubled with one to score Rays’ first game. Wales retired from the next seven hits he faced before back-to-back multiples of Josh Lowe and Chang tied the match and ended his descent.
“To say I’m frustrated is an understatement,” Wells said. “I think the results turned out well, but at the end of the day, we lost the match. I felt like I didn’t do my job by keeping us in it, especially in the sixth game, and that weighs on me.”
Hyde turned to Sunil Perez from the left, who had not allowed a earned tour for more than a month. But he succumbed to a third double ray, that of Francisco Mejia, which gave Tampa Bay its first lead of the night. Mejia came home when Christian Bethancourt snuck home from over the short left field wall, and Orioles player Anthony Santander appeared to overtake the fly-ball referees by mistake at first.
The batting average was 0.060, according to Statcast, and tied for sixth in the lowest domestic inning the Orioles have allowed since 2015.
“Sionel Perez has been money in the bank for us all season,” Hyde said. “I left the pitch to be hit by Mejia and then running on the pitch was kind of weird on the line.”
Urías fired a more defined two-round shot in the eighth minute to net the Orioles on one point, but it was the only hit in a running production with a runner in the scoring position all night. Rookie catcher Adley Rutschman went 0 for 3 in those positions, and came out twice empty with bases loaded.
The Orioles’ past three losses and six of their previous nine came in one round. The most recent pair before Friday were defeats in Minnesota that led directly to a streak that saw Baltimore win six games in the AL wild-Card standings, play the field dominantly and hit the clutch.
“You probably won’t turn the table the rest of the year, so how do you respond from here?” said Mancini.
Wells had a definitive answer.
“I think you’ll see us bounce back pretty well again,” Wells said. “The feeling of losing after 10 games is not something we want.”
Urías added, “Let’s start another one tomorrow, shall we?”
After an absence of nearly a month due to a strain on the left, Urías returned for what proved to be the second game of the Orioles’ streak. It was the same tear.
Friday was his first game for the Baltimore team. Urías has hit the ball hard all season, but has been hitting the ball in the air lately, citing a “better starting angle” to strengthen him.
“He gave us a big offensive spark, and we played really well in defence,” Hyde said. “He’s got some big hits for us since his comeback. He lengthens our lineup, too, at the bottom. He’s a guy who covers the plate and handles the bats really well.”
The Orioles have changed since their previous visit to the Tropicana Field. So does Wales.
On his first major league start, Wales allowed four runs while scoring five teams. During his next 17 starts, he had a 3.01 ERA.
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Wells is the first Orioles player to have such a stretch in a season since Chris Tillman in 2016. Wells’ streak of six straight win decisions and five successive decisions on the road, both of which also finished on Friday, were the longest by an Oriole player since Tillman won With nine consecutive decisions in 2016 and eight consecutive decisions abroad since 2014.
“I feel like I’ve taken big steps forward,” Wells said. “I think there is still a lot to get better at, more consistent in. So I’m looking forward to being able to sort of move that into my second half.”
Dean Kramer, who struggled with a left-sided strain as he overheated to replace Wells on that first start, will start in Baltimore on Saturday, with Hyde saying Jordan Lyles will be “more than likely” at halftime on Sunday. Austin Voth, who has taken the last five turns in the Orioles turn, will be available off the playing field.
ORIOLES @ RAYS
Saturday, 4:10 pm
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